With the revelation finally released to the public, the reason for the deep secrecy about the compliance numbers for the NY SAFE Act is clear. The law is a 98.7% failure with a 2+ year total of less than 45,000 people in compliance. Gun violence has increased, both in 2013 and 2014. Law-abiding citizens have been turned into criminals with the sweep of a pen under the guise of greatest good. The question that remains to be answered is why do NY Democrats cling to the law?
Two things are required for any law to function, regardless if that law is just, effective or utterly useless. Compliance and enforceability. The NY Safe Act fails in regard to both. The compliance rate can nearly only be quantified in tenths of percentages. If a limited poll, conducted in 2001, is accurate today (which is highly unlikely) then 18% of the population of New York own guns or 3.5 million gun owners (figures that are often quoted by various sources rely on this source). Of that number, estimates have varied but a constant number quoted is over 1 million gun owners have semi-automatic rifles that fall under the NY SAFE Act restrictions, the number likely would increase if shotguns that also fall under the restriction are counted. The net result is that compliance, in the best case estimates, are 4.5% for rifle owners and 1.3% for all gun owners in NY State – based on 14 year old data of 3,822 respondents under unknown conditions.
It is the purpose of Government to serve the people. When Government fails in this responsibility, it is the duty of the public to peacefully fail to comply. No better example comes to mind than Rosa Parks and the Jim Crow segregation laws. Government failed, the people took action peacefully, the laws were changed. That is the American system.
The people of New York, including many in law enforcement, have clearly stated that Gov. Cuomo and the Democrat-led State Government (as well as a few Republicans) have failed the public. Gov. Cuomo has led a charge in opposition of the masses, under the delusion that his individual wisdom (and that of a handful of politicians that think as he does) supercedes the public. The masses have countered with non-compliance to a degree that no political spin or gerrymandering of the numbers will ever display anything but contempt.
“Like most laws which are poorly conceived, drafted in haste and voted upon by legislators who have not read them, the Cuomo gun laws are hopelessly ineffective and not enforceable.” – Assemblyman Bill Nojay, 4/12/14
The second requirement of any law is the ability to enforce it. Much like Nicholas’s Law, the NY Safe Act is nearly unenforceable. Beyond voluntary compliance, or violation of other laws, the NY Safe Act cannot be enforced without violation of the 4th Amendment. If your neighbor has one, or 2 dozen, firearms that violate the Act would you know? Would authorities know? Unless family members are turned against one another, or neighbors spying on one another, there is no way to know. If a law cannot be enforced then it is as if the law does not exist. It is essentially a waste of time, paper, and taxpayer dollars (that paid for the salary of the politicians that promoted the law).
Separate of the major requirements being missing, where else does the Act fail? Punishment. The Act is squarely focused on law-abiding citizens. Individuals that have licensed firearms, and (generally) comply with legislation. Criminals, who by definition actively and willfully violate the law to the detriment of society, are unaffected. Gang bangers don’t register weapons. Regardless of magazine size, criminals use illegal firearms to commit crimes. It is truly that simple.
Beyond who is being targeted for punishment, the severity of the punishment is also a factor. Severity of punishment is meant to be a deterrent, thus robbing a bank is more harshly punished than j-walking. A criminal charged with murder for a drive-by shooting is not impacted by the fines, permit loss, or confiscation of firearms that the NY SAFE Act metes out. The same is true for virtually every crime committed with a firearm. Criminals are unaffected, but law-abiding citizens are unduly compromised.
Scope of the law is a factor readily obfuscated by the Cuomo Administration. The stated goal of the NY SAFE Act is to protect children and the public from mass shootings. Yet the focus of the law is on “assault weapons”. The classification of “assault” is arbitrary, and military grade weapons are not covered by the law (there are a host of laws already in existence that cover these types of firearms). The most specific class of firearm mislabeled as “assault” are semi-automatic rifles, which nearly encompasses all types of rifles made at this time. But rifles are the least likely firearm to be used on mass shootings. In fact, as was discussed in reference to the Nicholas’s Law passed by the NY Assembly, children and adults are less likely to be killed by a rifle than knives, blunt objects, hands, and other (non-firearm) items combined by several factors of risk. Thus the Act is designed to target a massive array of firearms that are comparatively the least at risk. The scope of the law is wrong.
Add to the above the fact that the Act has been used to violate a host of other laws. The Act is the reason that yet another secret list exists, based on medical history of Americans, which is according to some a violation of HIPPA and other laws. The objections of mental health advocates have been as strenuous as those of 2nd Amendment advocates. The list goes on.
Lastly, the NY SAFE Act has repeatedly failed in the court of law. From the illegality of magazine restrictions to the purposive denial of access to compliance data the NY Government has lost at every turn. At least a half-dozen other court cases are pending, with outcomes expected to hand further defeat to Gov. Cuomo and those that supported his rushed act of media attention. There has been such a blowback that the Act is being modified and repealed piece by piece as Democrats try to save face wherever they can with this legislation.
So in conclusion it must be asked again, why are Democrats defending this law? Other than allowing a minority of Liberals and Democrats the ability to sleep at night because they believe they have accomplished something – which has no factual data to back up that feeling – it has not made the people of New York safer. It have not even provided an economic benefit, as it has been a factor in several companies leaving the State and taking jobs and families with them. Perhaps the only thing that the NY SAFE Act can be said to have done effectively was elevate the political aspirations of Gov. Cuomo and a sparse number of politicians, temporarily.
NY State is already over-burdened with bad laws, duplicitous laws, red tape and regulations that need flow charts to navigate. NY State has been plagued with corrupt politicians focused on furthering their own pockets and delusions of grandeur for so long the nickname of the Empire State has taken on a darker and negative connotation. Isn’t it time for Gov. Cuomo and the Democrat-led State Government to pause for even a brief moment and repeal at least this singular mistake? The public have made their position clear, but can the politicians isolated in Albany hear the message being sent?